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Crafting Intriguing Characters: Unveiling the MBTI Approach

Writers embark on an exciting journey into the captivating realm of character creation. As we delve deeper into this art, I will introduce you to my favorite technique for crafting compelling characters: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) framework. However, it's essential to remember that this isn't the only approach to character development. Some authors prefer a unique twist, drawing inspiration from real-life personalities to enrich their character's essence, or even use astrological signs.

But what exactly is the MBTI, and why do I favor it? The MBTI, short for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, was created by Americans Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. Their inspiration stemmed from the work of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, particularly his book Psychological Types. Isabel Myers, who identified as an INFP and was intrigued by Jung's complex ideas, aimed to simplify his theories by organizing Jungian cognitive functions for broader understanding. The reason I favor the MBTI is its simplicity and power. It provides a structured framework for character development, making it easier to define a character's quirks and complexities. After all, no one is flawless; every character grapples with internal and external conflicts.

With the MBTI, our first step is to determine whether your character leans more toward introversion or extroversion. Do they recharge in solitude or thrive on social energy? Keep in mind that introverts do interact with others but find solace in solitude. For example, they might choose a good book over a bustling social gathering. In contrast, extroverts draw energy from social interactions when they feel drained.

Next, let's explore how your character processes information. Are they sensors (S) or Intuitive (N)? Sensors focus on concrete reality, emphasizing details. On the other hand, Intuitives delve into the abstract and the bigger picture. Ask them what connects a table and chairs, and if they say "four legs," that's a Sensor's precise response. If they mention "both are furniture," that's an intuitive approach. It's essential to understand that most individuals incorporate elements of both sensing and intuition in their personalities.

Now, we come to the question of decision-making. Are your characters feelers (F) or thinkers (T)? Do they rely on values or logic to guide their choices? Thinkers aren't devoid of emotions, and feelers can employ logical thinking when needed. Both thinking and feeling play crucial roles in all of us. For instance, an ESTP is a thinker with introverted thinking and extroverted feeling.

The final aspect of the MBTI framework is lifestyle preference. Do your characters go with the flow or are they meticulous planners? Imagine planning a holiday; is their approach intricate, or are they open to spontaneous detours? Planners are judgers (J), while those who are more easygoing in their approach are perceivers (P).

Once you've determined these four letters, the world of Google becomes your ally. You can explore how these hints can spice up your characters and add layers to their personalities. For instance, consider the ISTP character: the rugged lone wolf who often excels as a problem-solver. Behind that confident exterior, they may be hiding emotional storms. However, it's crucial to remember that these hints only serve as tools for character development, not rigid molds.

If you're hungry for more insights into the MBTI and personality types, I highly recommend diving into Frank James' YouTube channel. There, you'll find an abundance of personality sketches and MBTI demystification. Frank James also provides humorous comedy sketches centered around personality types and offers explainer videos that simplify the MBTI concept.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Jaqueline Neves